Interview with the Founders of Women’s Cider Group, the Pomme Boots Society

Pomme Boots Society founders left to right: Jana, Gemma and Jennie

Pomme Boots Society founders left to right: Jana, Gemma, and Jennie

Three members of the Oregon/Washington cider industry have formed the Pomme Boots Society, an organization dedicated to supporting women in the cider industry. Much like the Pink Boots Society for women in the beer industry, the Pomme Boots Society seeks to bring together women craft cider professionals to grow opportunities for networking, mentoring, support, and continued education. This Friday, September 25, will be the first gathering of this group, and all who are interested in learning more about the organization or joining are invited to attend. Ahead of that upcoming seminal meeting we thought we would interview the Pomme Boots Society founders Gemma Fanelli Schmit (of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider), Jennie Dorsey (of Schilling Cider), and Jana Daisy-Ensign (Finnriver Farm & Cidery) on their new group.

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Jana Daisy-Ensign

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Q: So who are all the founders of the Pomme Boots Society and their place in the industry?

Pomme Boots founding members are Jennie Dorsey, Gemma Fanelli Schmit, and Jana Daisy-Ensign. We work for three different Pacific Northwest cideries, each based in different locations with varying size and focus. As industry professionals we also have varied backgrounds and are currently active in different roles. We have found we share much commonality of experience as a result of our work. Each of us also finds intrinsic value in connecting people and working to build community. Pomme Boots has naturally emerged as a result of our industry work, individual personalities and growing friendship. We feel the rapid growth of the cider industry in recent years has deepened the need for increased networking and community building as the industry seeks to define itself and the number of producers continues to grow. In this fast paced category we see as a valuable opportunity to enhance the professional and personal lives of women working in cider through the creation of a dedicated organization. Above and beyond our day to day work in the industry we feel inspired to help bring this to fruition.

Q: What position will each of you hold in the new organization?

You could say we are in the role of seeding the new organization. We share a passion for cider and for creating connections which will play into evolving roles in the new organization but the truth is we won’t know what our final roles will be until the group more fully forms. We each have strengths that we look forward to sharing within the organization and we plan to stay active in leadership roles. We are excited to gather the insight of what ladies in the industry would like to contribute and receive from the group. There are so many brilliant women in our industry who will help to shape the group.

Gemma Fanelli Schmit

Gemma Fanelli Schmit

Q: How official is the Pomme Boots? Are you planning to be a non-profit like the Pink Boots Society?

Everything is very casual right now. It is exciting to be forming something which isn’t fully defined, but rather has some capacity to grow organically based on the membership. Our first meetup event is coming up next Friday, September 25th from 5-8pm. We’ve called it a “Social.” It will be an initial opportunity to gather ladies, get some initial input and enjoy some cider. The event also features a rare cider specialty draft list (all are welcome!) and will be hosted at Reverend Nat’s in Portland. Beyond this first social we plan to continue with happy hour meetings the fourth Tuesday of each month, 5-7pm at rotating locations. The October 27th Happy Hour will be hosted at Bushwhacker Woodlawn. As for non-profit status, we’re not sure yet. This could be the route or the group could take a different direction. We definitely want to keep it mission driven in terms of creating positive impacts in the lives of members and enriching the communities in which we work.

Q: I assume PBS was an influence since the similarity in both name and goals. Did you consult with them on founding Pomme Boots?

We did meet with Pink Boots Executive Director, Emily Engdahl several months ago to chat and other casual conversations have been quite supportive. There is growing interest from women in the craft cider industry to join Pink Boots Society but the organization is specific to women in beer. Women in the cider industry were also looking for this type of opportunity to make meaningful connections and share experience with others working in same field. After years of thinking about it, talking about it and then meeting with Pink Boots we knew it was time to strike out and create something new. We wanted to showcase the sisterhood of women in the craft beverage world and the name Pomme Boots was too perfect to pass up!

Q: What’s the purpose for the Pomme Boots Society and do you think there is a need for it in the industry?

Our starting point for defining the group’s purpose is to “bring together women craft cider professionals to grow opportunities for networking, mentoring, support and continued education.” Again, some of the refinement of how the group operates and more detailed specifics of who takes on what role, etc. will be further defined by the group as it grows. As this idea has been seeded for a few years now the initial discussions and responses since organizing have been wonderfully positive. This positive response, garnered through countless individual contacts along with the notable number of inquiries from women in cider received by Pink Boots seems to demonstrate a need.

Jennie Dorsey

Jennie Dorsey

Q: The Beer industry is undeniably male-based, but the cider industry seems a little more balanced. Is there as much of a need for an all-women group when some might argue cider already draws more women drinkers?

It seems the heart of the question lies in the identification of women drinkers making up a bigger part of the pie when it comes to cider. Indeed, cider does draw a much more evenly balanced ratio of women and men drinkers than does beer. Pomme Boots Society is forming for the women who work in the industry though—those who craft, create, sell and serve cider. We are the force behind the apple in the glass and in the cider world women are still a less represented group. It is our sincere hope that through our efforts to organize as a group of women who share an industry that we can work collectively to advance cider on the craft beverage stage in a way that brings us together with an emphasis on collaboration rather than competition.

Here’s the official press release from the group:

CALLING WOMEN IN CRAFT CIDER

We welcome you to join us for the initial meet up of The Pomme Boots Society. 5-8pm Friday, September 25, Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider Taproom in Portland will host a special Rare Cider Night and Pomme Boots Social. A curated, rare draft cider taplist will be featured. This event marks the first public gathering of the Society. All interested are invited to attend. Enjoy exceptional ciders and come together with other craft cider professionals to help launch this newly forming group. Pomme Boots founding members Jennie Dorsey, Gemma Fanelli Schmit and Jana Daisy-Ensign will be present to share their initial vision and help make connections. Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider Taproom is located at 1813 NE 2nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97212.

Here’s a sneak peek at the event draft list, with more to come…

Reverend Nat’s Revival Dry 2012

Reverend Nat’s PICC Cuvee 2015

Reverend Nat’s Tequila Barrel-aged Tepache

Finnriver Berry Barrel Sour with Blueberry

Finnriver Marrow & Pome

Schilling Rhubarb Sour

Snowdrift Cornice

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com

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